Side Effects of COVID-19 Vaccination

The COVID-19 vaccines are safe for most people over the age of 18. This includes those who have pre-existing conditions of any kind. You can get the COVID 19 jab even if you are living with hypertension, diabetes, asthma, pulmonary conditions, as well as chronic infections.

Approved COVID-19 Vaccines

The World Health Organization approves several COVID-19 vaccines for use all over the world. These include:

  • Pfizer/BioNtech Comirnaty vaccine
  • SII/Covishield 
  • AstraZeneca
  • Janssen
  • Moderna COVID-19 vaccine,
  • Sinophar
  • Sinovac
  • CoronaVac Vaccines.

How Do COVID-19 Vaccines Work?

According to the WHO, the COVID-19 vaccines protect you against the disease by developing an immune response to the SARS-Cov-2 virus. Developing immunity through vaccination means a reduced risk of developing the illness and its consequences. Getting vaccinated also means that you will reduce the chances of spreading the virus to the people around you.

Although the COVID-19 vaccination is available for adults aged 18 and over, the elderly and front-line workers are on top of the priority list in most countries.

What are the Effects of the COVID-19 Vaccination?

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Like with any medication and vaccination, you are likely to develop side effects from the COVID-19 vaccination. Common side effects include pain, redness, and swelling on the arm that you got the shot. To reduce the pain and discomfort, apply a clean, cool, and wet washcloth over the affected area. It will also help to exercise your arm to reduce the discomfort and any numbness present. If the redness and tenderness where you got the shot worsens after 24 hours, you might need to consult a doctor.

The following side effects are likely to manifest in a few hours after the shot:

Fatigue and Headache

It is normal for your body to feel fatigued accompanied by a headache that lasts for a day or two. 30% of people experience a headache and fatigue after the first dose, while 13% report after the second dose. People who had previously had COVID-19 are three times more likely to have side effects after the Pfizer vaccine and twice as likely after the AstraZeneca jab.

Muscle Pain

Muscle numbness is likely to occur after you have had your first dose.  This may be accompanied by shoulder pain. Some patients have complained of having difficulty in using their hands to lift heavy objects after the jab. Your doctor may recommend medication for this if the problem persists.


You may experience chills and other flu-like symptoms for a day or two after the vaccination. Treat these side effects by taking ample rest. Your doctor may recommend paracetamol.


Some people have complained of nausea after the first dose of the Pfizer dose. The symptom may not be common with other vaccinations. Drinking water will help improve the nauseous feeling.


Fever is common after the first dose of Pfizer, with a higher likelihood of developing fever after the second dose. It is uncommon after the first dose of Moderna but very common after the second. Although fever is a strong reaction to a vaccine, the symptom should not last more than a few days. Drink plenty of fluids and dress lightly to manage the fever.

Most people seem to exhibit the mentioned side effects after getting the second shot of the vaccination.

Severe Side Effects

Serious side effects of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine can occur within three weeks of vaccination and require emergency care. Possible symptoms include the following:

  • Heart inflammation is a rare symptom, but it has been reported among several people who have taken the vaccine. Your physician will recommend rest and simple treatments for the inflammation.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent stomach pain
  • Severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision
  • Chest pain
  • Leg swelling

You may also experience an allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to the vaccine include the following:

  • Continuous shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Swelling of the lips, eyes, or tongue
  • Redness, swelling, or itchiness in areas of the body other than the limb in which the vaccine was given.
  • Blood clots may affect few people who have had the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Final Thoughts

If you experience any of the above allergic reactions, get help immediately.  If the reaction disappears on its own, mention it to your doctor before the next dose. It may be possible for you to get a different vaccine for your second dose.

The chance of any of these sides effects occurring after vaccination depends on the specific vaccine in use.